Aug 1, 2022 - News

Colorado's big transit experiment offers free fares in August

Passengers get onboard an RTD bus in Denver. Photo: Hyoung Chang/Denver Post via Getty Images
Passengers board an RTD bus in Denver. Photo: Hyoung Chang/Denver Post via Getty Images

Colorado launches a grand experiment Monday to pull cars from the road and reduce air pollution.

Driving the news: 31 transit agencies across the state β€” including RTD in Denver β€” will offer free rides for the month of August. It's the beginning of a two-year pilot program that will cost $28 million annually.

  • In addition, the state's Bustang service is cutting fares by half through Sept. 5.

Of note: The program intends to alleviate ground-level ozone pollution created by car and industrial exhaust in the hot summer sun. Colorado's worst months are June through August.

Why it matters: Transit advocates say it's the largest zero-fare transit program in the nation, with the agencies involved averaging 5.8 million trips a month.

Yes, but: Whether the program will boost ridership β€” and convert people permanently to transit β€” is a major question mark.

  • The outlook is particularly gloomy for the Regional Transit District, which covers seven metro counties. RTD is in the middle of a controversial overhaul that will focus on transit routes in Denver and not the suburbs. Boulder, which pays into the service, is already protesting the move.

Our thought bubble: The high ticket prices for RTD light rail trips to the airport typically make it cheaper for a Denver-area family to drive and park.

  • Now, with free fares, the light rail may finally be worth it.
avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found

Denverpostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more